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Common Mistakes in Cedar Shake Roof Repairs

Cedar shake roofs are well-known for being durable and long-lived. However, even cedar roofs will eventually need repair and replacement. While many cedar shake repairs are simple, they must be performed the right way to be effective and to avoid compromising the roof. Here are a few common mistakes homeowners (and some contractors) make when repairing cedar shake roofs.

Nailing Down Cupped or Curled Shingles

Cupping and curling are natural parts of any cedar shake’s life span. As cedar weathers and ages, the shakes and shingles will change shape due to repeated expansion and contraction. However, some homeowners see this as unsightly and try to fix it themselves by nailing the shakes down to fix them flat.

This is a mistake, as it can cause the cedar to prematurely split or crack, and it can also provide an entry point for water into the inside of your roof. Remember that some cupping or curling is perfectly natural for a cedar roof. If it’s causing problems, you should replace shingles rather than nailing them down.

Reattaching Damaged Shingles

Storms and accidents can lead to broken or damaged cedar shingles on your roof. Even if the shingles look relatively whole, it’s never a good idea to reattach them to your roof. Damaged shingles won’t adequately protect against water, ice, or other weather, and it’s never a good idea to reuse them.

Using Caulk or other Sealants to Patch the Roof

If your roof develops a small leak, it’s natural to try to make the simplest repair possible. Many homeowners, and some inexperienced or unscrupulous contractors, fix small leaks with roofing caulk, roofing tar, or other sealants. However, these products should never be used to fix large leaks, and they shouldn’t be used directly on a cedar roof. Caulk and tar will not stick effectively to unfinished cedar roofs; they’re only effective on flashing or other roof materials. They also have a much shorter life span than a properly repaired roof, meaning you’ll soon see more problems if you don’t fix them the right way.

Coating the Shakes with Roof Treatments or Sealants

Along with fixing small leaks using caulk, some homeowners will also try to extend the life of their cedar roof by applying a whole-roof sealant or other treatment. While there are some cedar treatments that can help it keep its rich color or improve water resistance, cedar should never be completely sealed. Cedar roofs need to breathe; applying clear coat sealants or plasticizers will dramatically shorten their life span. If you do choose to use a cedar roof treatment on your cedar shake roof, make sure you read about it carefully and do your research first.

Inadequately Maintaining the Roof

One of the most frequent causes of cedar shake problems is inadequate maintenance. Cedar roofs are long-lived and durable, but they also require some special care to meet their full potential. To avoid costly repairs down the line, make sure you regularly do the following:

  • Clean your gutters, downspouts, drains, and any corners where debris can accumulate on your roof.
  • Visually inspect your cedar roof for signs of mold, mildew, or rot.
  • Make sure your attic has adequate ventilation in order to avoid heat buildup during the summer and ice damming in the winter.
  • Clean away debris and dirt from your roof at least once a year. However, avoid using a power washer on your cedar roof – power washers can easily force water up underneath the cedar shakes, leading to leaks and damage to your roof interior.
  • Try to avoid climbing on your roof as much as possible to avoid damaging it.

Do you have questions about repairing or maintaining your cedar roof? Are you considering getting a new cedar roof for your own home? If so, contact us today at BRAX Roofing in Silver Spring.

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